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Politics Senators press for answers about Trump businesses

23:50  19 may  2017
23:50  19 may  2017 Source:   usatoday.com

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To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs. Senators press for answers about Trump businesses . Steve Reilly, USA TODAY Published 1:54 p.m. ET May 19, 2017 | Updated 2:41 p.m. ET May 19, 2017.

Similar from the Web. Senators press for answers about Trump businesses - www.usatoday.com. A four-story American flag hangs April 13, 2017, over an Austrian-crystal chandelier in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

  Senators press for answers about Trump businesses © Provided by USA Today

A group of Senate Democrats is asking the Trump Organization for details about its operations since President Donald Trump's inauguration, citing concerns about potential violations of parts of the U.S. Constitution banning the president from accepting gifts from foreign or domestic government entities.

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Because Trump did not divest from his business empire when he took office, the lawmakers say the ongoing financial relationship raises “serious concerns about whether the Trump Organization is effectively a pass-through” for income to reach the president, possibly in violation of the constitution. The U.S. Constitution forbids government officials from accepting emoluments, or gifts, from foreign powers, and also forbids the president from receiving gifts “from the United States, or any of them."

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Op-Eds. All Opinion. Business . Magazine. The senators said they want to determine if applications seeking permission for surveillance The letter also asks for answers about whether the DNC and campaign were aware of Steele’s contacts with “the FBI or other agencies prior to the 2016 election.”

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The 17 senators who signed the letter dated Thursday are asking Trump Organization to provide answers to a series of questions about the sources of its profits, and how the company segregates and accounts for foreign profits.

Citing the findings of a USA Today investigation published in April, the senators asked the Trump Organization to explain what steps it has taken to ensure foreign governments are not purchasing Trump real estate through limited liability corporations.

The investigation found that Trump companies had sold at least 14 luxury condos and home-building lots for about $23 million from Election Day through mid-April. Of those, half were sold to limited liability companies with no names listed in deeds, obscuring buyers’ identities.

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King wasn’t the only senator who was frustrated by the intelligence officials’ refusal to answer questions. At another point, Heinrich pressed Coats about the conversation with Trump detailed by the Post, telling him, “I don’t care how you felt, I’m not asking whether you felt pressured, I’m simply

“ Senator Graham, I can’t comment on that, because that impacts an investigation,” he said. Clapper’s response suggests there could be an active investigation related to Trump ’s business dealings with Russia. On Tuesday, Graham told CNN he wants “to know more about Trump ’s business dealings.”

The legislators' letter also asks questions about a range of issues including the U.S. Secret Service’s payments for golf carts at Mar-A-Lago, trademarks recently registered with the Chinese government, and pending trademark applications in other nations. Lawmakers also asked a series of questions concerning a plan announced in January to donate profits from foreign government business at Trump properties to the U.S. Treasury, including the mechanism used to determine whether hotel guests are using funds from foreign governments.

Although Trump and his attorneys have said he's separated himself from his businesses, the trust in which he has placed his assets is run by his sons. Trump is the only beneficiary and can withdraw funds at any time, and he is expected to receive updates on the finances of his business during the course of the presidency.

“It is essential for the American people to know that the president’s decisions are not affected by his personal financial interest,” the letter states.

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And as new evidence has emerged that a piece of sophisticated malware caused a blackout in the Ukrainian capital last December, one group of senators wants answers now about the threat of Russian grid-hacking. But Trump 's budget proposal, the senators point out, would cut business .

The letter was signed by 17 Senate Democrats, including Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and six other members of the committee.

A Trump Organization spokeswoman did not immediately comment on the letter. The Democratic lawmakers asked the Trump Organization to respond "as soon as possible," but do not have legal authority to force the company to answer questions.

A four-story American flag hangs April 13, 2017, over an Austrian-crystal chandelier in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Washington.© Beth J. Harpaz, AP A four-story American flag hangs April 13, 2017, over an Austrian-crystal chandelier in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

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